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Posted on October 19, 2011
Where does “shy” get anybody anyway?

Few who know me would describe me as shy and retiring.  I maintain that I am an introvert, for real y’all, but recently learned that does not mean “has a fear of vocalizing one’s wants and needs.” Check and check.

So, there are several pivotal points in my life where a lack of stage fright has paid off:

My Concord Tribune cover shot where I reminded Santa that there were only 18 days until Christmas.  I was watching when the photographer approached a fellow kindergartener in the lunch room….said kindergartener cowered in his chair, refusing to grasp his moment of glory. 

 I turned around, feigning ignorance and nonchalance when the photographer approached my table, magnetized by my telegenic bowl cut and signature saucer face and glasses.  Bingo…. “why yes sir, I will agree to be photographed” ha!  I made this happen Mr. Small-Town newspaper photographer, don’t think YOU chose ME!


Cover portrait immortalized in bottlecaps….it was a significant moment, OK?

Cut to eighth grade and my chance at stage stardom…we’re doing a Woody Allen play featuring an old Jewish mother from New York.  Clearly, that’s the role I’m most suited for, right?….what must I do to convince the director that I am her living, breathing incarnation?


Watch episode after episode of Laverne and Shirley to memorize Penny Marshall’s spot-on New York accent (IknowIknow, Laverne was in Milwaukee… schlemiel schlimazel, it was all the same to me) then, corner director between classes to show off my chameleon-like vocal stylings.  Boom….I am Marion Hollander!

Here, perhaps, a more appropriately casted Marion…there’s a little resemblance, don’t you think?


Cut, again, to the past few years where various blind and internet dating scenarios that, although ultimately fruitless, still provide hours of entertaining sociological insights for myself and close friends. 

 How many of you have discussed expressing a dog’s anal glands on a first and last date (really, I went there with a veterinarian because I pretty much wanted to kill any thoughts of a mutual future….thanks again Nicole).

What does any of this have to do with 119 Houston St.? 

My latest victory might not seem as exciting as a totally bizarre casting choice, newspaper cover shot, or bad date fodder, but to someone redoing a house with their eyes on their budget, it’s every bit as significant and it involves running off at the mouth to the friendly tile guys.

I have found that, in business, and I realize this is pretty obvious, it helps to cultivate relationships with people because you NEVER know what’s going to come from it.  Now, making friends with folks is worth something in and of itself, but let’s face it, you’re not usually thinking about bonding with folks when you run in to pick up a tile order. 

 But at least three times now, taking a few minutes to chitchat has set me up for some pretty snazzy tile at ridiculously low prices when these guys let me know about overstocks or canceled orders they are just looking to clear out. 

Their surplus is now my shower tile, kitchen floor tile and fabulous, unique and shiny glass mosaic backsplash tile.  POW!!!!!  (that’s me blowing on my imaginary guns that are actually my hands).

Super snazzy kitchen backsplash….my photo does it no justice - you’ll just have to stay tuned!


Coincidentally, or serendipitously, this tile goes like magic with my discount floor tile.

So, the moral to this story is to have an appropriately big mouth…know when to read the facial expressions or body signals that indicate the fine line between pleasant chatter and mind numbing verbal diarrhea….it’s a subtle line, but one worth not crossing if you want to make bank.  Because while I agree that well-behaved women might not make history, I would add that quiet wallflowers don’t get the discounts and right now I’m more concerned with discounts than turning into an encyclopedia entry…I’m just shallow that way.

Posted on October 3, 2011
Everybody needs some support now and then.

So, as far as I’m concerned, things have been a little boring at Houston lately.  They’ve been spending the last week or so making sure the bottom floor doesn’t fall in before we start doing all sorts of fun….blah blah blah – how fun is that? 


I think this Jenga support pillar has a sort of character to it, n’est-ce pas? 

Alas, abstract sculptures do not good support pillars make, so this pillar is no more and has been replaced by some pretty studly engineer-approved columns and a new micro-lam beam.  119 Houston ain’t going nowhere anytime soon-now bring on the yumyum.

I’ve started accumulating some tile for the bathrooms and I think the theme for this bathroom story is going to be penny round.  I love these little guys and I think it’s an updated way to nod to the bungalow past without going totally hex tile (although I still love the hex too).

I’m doing this fun, sunny blue tile in the upstairs bathroom, which I’m picturing as the more youthful wing of the house…yup, I’m talking about this house in terms of wings – I smell a megalomaniac in the house. 


So, this bathroom will have a penny round floor and a crisp white subway tile tub/shower surround guaranteeing your kids wake up sunny, happy and ready to conquer the school day with a smile and enhanced IQ.  I do love making promises I can’t keep…especially regarding other people’s offspring.

Here are some other nice penny round applications, one in a more contemporary bathroom.  I’m sure Arnold is shaking in his shoes that I’m going to come up with a pattern like the second pic….don’t think I’m not thinking about it.



If it’s a theme, it has to appear in more than one bathroom, right?, so the shower floor in the downstairs master bath will have white penny round tiles.  In a bit of a carry-over from Starnes, I have several boxes of Carrera subway tile left…never a bad thing to have leftover marble.  So, the floor of the master bath will have honed 12x12 marble tile and the subway tile will get worked into the white 6x8 shower tile as an accent. 

Other good news updates:

·         Took the astroturf off the front porch and found the porch boards are in really good shape!  Turns out, astroturf is a valuable tool in bungalow preservation.

·         Took the carpet out inside and the hardwood floors are in excellent shape too.

·         Floorplan has changed slightly giving you a bigger master closet and laundry / storage area and a kitchen that is more open to back-of-the-house living area.

Posted on August 30, 2011
Roost Rehab. #2

Like cool breezes and turning leaves signal the coming of fall, murmurs of our country’s potentially eminent financial vortex can only signal one thing….I’m buying another house!  Yipppeeee!  Seriously, when God handed out interesting timing, I clearly wasn’t smelling roses and picking petunias….I was first in line, baby!

We’re back in Montford, but NOT in the historic district part of Montford which means one less headache and one less stack of forms to deal with.  If I want to side this thing in purple and green argyle vinyl, I can.  I won’t, but I can, and there is a certain sense of liberty about that.

So you want to meet the new lady don’t you?  Drumroll please……..


This one is exciting because it represents a whole new set of challenges than the last.  Starnes was a petri dish of toxic biological experimentation, but the floorplan was good and¸ aside from taking out a wall, we didn’t change anything structural.  With Houston, we’re playing “Fun with Floorplans” and I get to massage my spatial rejigging muscles – I bet you didn’t know you had those…they’re located in the lower thigh.

Speaking of tearing things up, this is a good place to address a nagging pet peave of mine (or at least I like to act like it’s a pet peeve). The confusion about the difference between an interior decorator and an interior designer.

I like to explain it this way using visual metaphor.

This is what an interior decorator does:


Same nose, same jawline….different foundation that doesn’t match her neck color.

This is what an interior designer does:


That’s right….I can cut open your face and rearrange things, only in my case, your face is your house and I do clear it with my contractor first.  Frankly, I like doing the decorator stuff too, but this project will involve actual plastic surgery in addition to a fresh coat of paint.

So, here’s a house tour, starting with the first floor:


Reflected behind me and the trusty Arnold is the front room, complete with fireplace that WILL be fitted with a gas insert.  Here’s a closeup of the grooviest mirrored tile you’ve ever seen:


Do you think I’ll win a Griffin Award for preservation if I manage to incorporate this into the redo?  If there is right in this world I will!


Dining Room that will cease to exist once the walls come tumbling down.






…and this…


…..will be expanded to make a master suite. 



Back room off the kitchen which will become part of the larger kitchen, living, dining area.  So what do you think?  Should I leave the dropped ceiling?  (kidding)

The upstairs has three bedrooms and a bath.  Nothing major going on up there - just resurfacing everything, making the closets bigger and changing out the bathroom.  The major reno. will be going on downstairs.  

Next post, I’ll run my floorplan changes by you.  I’m getting uber excited!!!

In closing, I just want to say that, as God as my witness, with dying carrot in hand thrust towards a vivid Southern sky (movie reference anyone…come on, it’s easy), I am going to keep the budget in the forefront of my little head this time….in the fore-er front than it was at Starnes.  SERIOUSLY!!  seriously.